Yenagoa—The Chairman of the Bayelsa State Council of Traditional Rulers, His Royal Majesty, King Bubaraye Dakolo – Agada IV and the 2nd Vice President of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), Chief Nengi James Eriworio have kicked against a reported plan by the Federal Government to scrap the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP).
NaijaliveTV reported that the two leaders agreed that the PAP has contributed to the unity of Nigeria, and sustained the peace in the Niger Delta region with increased volumes of oil and gas production.
The duo who made this known in separate interviews in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital averred that the programme has assisted the federal government in generating excess revenues of over $300billion from the sales of oil and gas products within the past twelve years.
On his part, King Dakolo, who is also the Ibenanaowei of Ekpetiama Kingdom, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the appointment of the new Interim Administrator, Major General Barry Tariye Ndiomu (rtd).
He noted that the PAP should be sustained so that the youths of the region will have more opportunities to be trained and empowered to become useful citizens from the region.
His words, “while thanking President Buhari for the appointment of our capable son into the programme at this point in history, we want to call that the Presidential Amnesty Programme be sustained so that the teeming youths in the region who are still suffering from one form of displacement or unemployment are properly trained and empowered for the future of the region.
“These youths will have a reason and an opportunity to be properly trained to become more useful citizens of the Niger Delta region and Nigeria at large.”
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“Because once these young men are not properly trained or groomed, they are going to be available for all kinds of evil machinations. I think the programme needs to be sustained.
“It has been around for a while, but it is yet to achieve its total objective for which it was established due to external political influence.
“Now that we have a new person on board, the Presidency needs to allow him to steer the ship without politicising the programme, and to enable him to display his capacity at actualizing the Amnesty purpose under President Buhari.”
“Those calling for the scrapping of PAP may not have done a proper appraisal on issues of insecurity and the mismanagement of oil and gas resources from the region.
“If they do, they would have even called for another fresh Presidential Amnesty Programme or asked the Federal Government to increase the funding of the PAP until the youths of the region will not have any reason to be restive.
“Anybody calling for the scrapping of the PAP has not done their homework, and taken account of the national security implications.”
King Dakolo frowned at an alleged attempt by contractors handling construction and supplies at the vandalized Amnesty Training Centre located at Kaima, Bayelsa State to get a court order seeking payment for the job done.
He insisted that the Federal Government and the Amnesty office should seek a security evaluation of what happened during the five (5) days of uninterrupted looting of the ₦60billion Amnesty training complex between the 11th – 15th of February 2019.
Also speaking, Chief Nengi James, who is also the Bayelsa State Chairman of the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), argued that,
“Despite the challenges of control and misapplication of priorities in terms of training and funding, the PAP should be sustained because the PAP assists thousands of families and youths across the Niger Delta region which produces the majority of the natural resources that have continually sustained the country.”
He stated that the region remains the major source of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings.
“The PAP has also assisted in areas of Manpower development, Entrepreneurial skills among the Niger Delta youths, and in sustaining the peace for oil and gas expatriates to operate freely across the region, ”he said.
He called on President Muhammadu Buhari to shun the calls for the scrapping of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, maintaining that there should be an increase in funding for the training and empowerment of the youths of the region.
The rights activist expressed concern over the excessive external influence over the Presidential Amnesty Programme, saying,
“There is the need to sustain the Amnesty Programme and allow for proper training and engagement of the youths of the region, there are many youths that are still waiting to be trained.
“Some are even in court seeking to be included in the Presidential Amnesty programme, while millions of youths across the region are eagerly expressing their desires to be included in the Amnesty Programme.”
“Therefore it is in the interest of the federal government to sustain this affordable peace, instead of scrapping this cost-effective peace for an unknown alternative that might cost ten to twenty times more.”